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SHILLONG: The Khasi-Welsh Cultural Dialogues, an interdisciplinary arts and creative cultural exchange project organised the Poetry, Song and Music Programme at NEHU Old Guest House Auditorium on Friday.
Headed by Dr Lisa Lewis, the project aims at investigating the history of the relationship between the Khasis and Wales through workshops and performances in various interdisciplinary subjects like poetry, performance art, music, drama and films.
There were musical performances by students of the Department of Cultural and Creative Studies, Valden Pariat, Lapdiang Sohlang, Jasmine Zuali, Benedict Hynniewta and Welsh musician Garath Bonello.
The Khasi-Jaintia Hills was represented by Dr Helen Davies and Garath Bonello from University of South Wales representing Wales, Dr Aparna Sharma from UCLA and Dr Desmond Kharmawphlang from NEHU.
Dr Lisa Lewis speaking to The Shillong Times said, “As academicians and artists, we want to investigate our shared history and also the post-colonial identity.”
The programme, sponsored by The Leverhulme Trust UK, also hosted Welsh poet Rhys Ap Trefor and other eminent poets Esther Syiem, Robin S. Ngangom, Piyush Dhar, Lalnunsanga Ralte and Kamal Tanti.
“We are unravelling this history looking at complicity of Welsh people about imperial tendencies,” adds Lewis.
The first Khasi alphabets were introduced by the Welsh missionary Thomas Jones in 1842.
From then on, many popular Welsh hymns have been translated into Khasi. The Welsh missionaries during British times had also helped improve the state of education and health in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills by establishing educational institutions and hospitals.
The renowned Welsh poet Nigel Jenkins had also written the book Khasia In Gwalia on the positive influence of the Welsh missionaries in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills.
“It is important that we confront history to know our part in it of what our identity is really composed of. Hence it is called a dialogue,” says Dr Lewis.